Tag Archives: Fun

Best Bets: Christmas Shopping at the AVAM Sideshow

Remember the first time you ate at Paper Moon Diner? You were probably in your first year of college, or maybe it was even over the summer in high school. Remember how you had to put your name on a list, and amuse yourself outside for like half an hour while you waited for a table? Remember how all the girls were unabashed about making eyes at the dessert case and how it was a big discussion whether or not to sit in the smoking section?

Most of all, remember the first time you saw all those toys?

Of course you do. You had a good buzz on. Maybe you were even a little high, and you sat down in there and had to put forth a Herculean effort not to roam around the dining room touching everything you could reach, putting figures in dirty poses and telling everyone crap stories from your childhood. You did that. We all did that.

The Sideshow gift shop at the AVAM has toys for kids from 6 to 66.

That, Baltimore, is the very same feeling you will get the first time you step foot into the Sideshow, the gift shop at the American Visionary Art Museum.

Far from your typical museum gift shop, the Sideshow’s curiosities rival the museum itself. Part Dime Museum, part Toys-R-Us, and part Art Mart, this place is literally a one-stop non-mall Christmas shop with gifts for kids from six to sixty-six.

The last time the Chop was down that way, the Sideshow was closed because it was nighttime and the time before that the place was packed because the museum was free, so we didn’t spend as much time browsing and playing around as we might have liked, but we were definitely impressed enough that we’re planning to make a separate trip down there just to see the gift shop, which you can do without paying for admission to the museum.

This time we’re going to block out at least a solid hour for playing and perusing among their shelves, which are densely packed from floor to ceiling with everything from the highbrow (art books, tea sets) to the lowbrow (plastic dog poop, fake vomit) and everything in between. We can’t wait to get a proper look at all those toys, as well as their selection of original artworks and goods curated from around the world. We’re also especially interested in their archive of screen printed posters from indie rock shows around the country, which are art in their own right and suitable for framing.

We’re going to be bringing two lists with us when we go: one of the people we’ll need to shop for for Christmas, and a blank list for all the stuff in there we’re going to want.

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Sideshow at the Visionary is located at 800 Key Highway in Federal Hill. 443-872-4926. Of course, we’re not actually going today, because like everything else in this crummy town they are closed on Mondays. Their hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm.

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Extraordinaires, Dangerous Ponies @ Charm City Art Space Tonight

Updated: Secret Mountains is a last minute cancellation on this bill. They are being replaced by Hermit Thrushes.

You should listen to the Chop, Baltimore. You should listen to the Chop because we haven’t steered you wrong yet. You should listen to us because what we’re about to tell you will steer you very, very right. You need to go to the Charm City Art Space tonight, because there’s a pretty damn good show going on there. This is at least the best you’ll get in the month of November, and maybe for the rest of the year.

Philly has been demanding more and more attention lately, and while they’re putting out acts like Dangerous Ponies and the Extraordinaires, it’s not difficult to see why. Being friends and labelmates on Punk Rock Payroll, these two often share the stage, as well as sharing a fun, upbeat-yet-stripped down garage-pop sound reminiscent of the Black Lips, Jay Reatard, and the Vivian Girls.

Dangerous Ponies play CCAS tonight. 7 pm Doors.

There’s not even a proper name for this sort of sub-genre, as ‘garage pop’ falls quite short for what these bands actually play, but whatever you want to call it, it’s a blast to listen to. These are the sort of bands that are happiest when they’re up on stage, to the point of being ecstatic, and remind you that they’re making music because it’s fun to make music.

While Dangerous Ponies and the Extraordinaires may be two sides of the same coin, Baltimore’s Secret Mountains is something different entirely. Don’t get us wrong; they’re plenty of fun to watch, but not quite in the same way. With a sound more reminiscent of Mazzy Star or Feist, Secret Mountains are enjoyable to see because you know you’re in on the ground floor, and watching one of this decade’s most talented bands before anyone else knows about them. Hearing these intricate melodies and full-bodied rhythms on the stage of a club or a DIY space is kind of akin to watching Brooks Robinson field grounders in Arkansas amateur ball… the talent is immediately obvious and overwhelming, and it goes without saying that this band’s star is going to be on the rise for many years to come.

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You know what else is a whole lot of fun? Voting for the Chop in the Sun’s Mobbies Contest, that’s what. There are only 3 days left to vote, and you can vote for us in 3 categories, Music/Nightlife, Misfits, and Personal. We’re going to need you to go vote right now since time is growing shorter and sadly, our trailing margin is not.

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Two Halloweens for the Price of One!

So, Halloween is pretty much here. Like today. Like right now. You may think that Halloween falls on Sunday, and that that’s totally lame, but for all intents and purposes, it’s really a blessing in disguise for fans of the holiday. A blessing from the Devil maybe. A super secret double bizarro blessing. Or something like that. For the kiddies, trick-or-treating may indeed be Sunday evening, but for the rest of us, we get a two day holiday for drinking and carrying on. Plus a Sunday to sleep it all off again. Talk about a win/win situation…

We spent some time in and around Station North last Halloween, and if you’re in the mood for going out, we’d definitely recommend doing likewise this year. The college kids can have the East Side and the South Side. Take ’em. We’re done with ’em. We’re perfectly happy right here in North Baltimore. Station North has been doing Halloween right for a few good years now, and if previous experience is anything to go by (and it is), there will be just enough costumed revelers to make every place in the neighborhood fun and interesting, but never so many in one place that the party is overwhelming or overcrowded.

 

Of course you can be two places at once. You've got superpowers.

So, by now you’ve got your costume, and you know what to look out for, but where are you going to go, eh?

There’s plenty going on around town tonight, but there are two events we feel are especially worthy of your attention. First up at the Ottobar the Charm City Roller Girls are going to be holding their 6th annual Bruisers’ Ball. This year’s theme is a Supervillain Soiree, and the costume contests will showcase that with various prizes in several different categories. There’s going to be plenty of other fun stuff too, like Halloween themed drinks and a photobooth, and of course, plenty of rollergirls all about the place. They’re even going to tape Dirty Marty to a wall, which just in itself should be worth the price of admission. And of course there’s a solid slate of bands including the Degenerettes, Hollowboy, and the Stalking Horses, as well as the Moustache dance party upstairs.

And if you can’t get your fill of heroes and villains in just one place, you can always head down to the Windup Space for a separate party with a similar theme. It’s Atomic Books’ second annual celebration of heroism and villainy, and this time around it’s going to feature. DJ Miracle Ear, debut videos from Atomic TV, and the new Rock Band 3 for your enjoyment, complete with Keytar.

Plus, the costume contest pays $400 in cold, hard cash. We’re calling it right now: if you’re lucky enough to snag a jackpot like that, the only right thing to do is to buy the house a round of drinks.

Happy Halloween.

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The Bruisers’ Ball at Ottobar (2549 N. Howard, Charles Village) begins at 9pm with the show bands playing at 10:00. $10, 18+.

Atomic’s Heroes and Villains Costume Ball at the Windup Space (12 W. North Ave in Station North) runs concurrently.

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